Anthem by Ayn Rand

nothing to say to us?”

Then Collective 0-0009 moved forward.

They moved to the table and the others followed.

“Yes,” spoke Collective 0-0009,

“we have much to say to you.”

The sound of their voices brought silence

to the hall and to beat of our heart.

“Yes,” said Collective 0-0009, “we have

much to say to a wretch who have broken

all the laws and who boast of their infamy!

How dared you think that your mind held

greater wisdom than the minds of your

brothers? And if the Councils had decreed

that you should be a Street Sweeper,

how dared you think that you could be of

greater use to men than in sweeping the streets?”

“How dared you, gutter cleaner,” spoke

Fraternity 9-3452, “to hold yourself as one

alone and with the thoughts of the one

and not of the many?”

“You shall be burned at the stake,”

said Democracy 4-6998.

“No, they shall be lashed,” said Unanimity 7-3304,

“till there is nothing left under the lashes.”

“No,” said Collective 0-0009, “we cannot

decide upon this, our brothers. No such

crime has ever been committed, and it is

not for us to judge. Nor for any small Council.

We shall deliver this creature to the World Council

itself and let their will be done.”

We looked upon them and we pleaded:

“Our brothers! You are right. Let the

will of the Council be done upon our body.

We do not care. But the light? What will

you do with the light?”

Collective 0-0009 looked upon us, and they smiled.

“So you think that you have found a new power,”

said Collective 0-0009. “Do all your brothers think that?”

“No,” we answered.

“What is not thought by all men cannot be true,”

said Collective 0-0009.

“You have worked on this alone?” asked

International 1-5537.

“Many men in the Homes of the Scholars have

had strange new ideas in the past,”

said Solidarity 8-1164, “but when the

majority of their brother Scholars voted

against them, they abandoned their ideas,

as all men must.”

“This box is useless,” said Alliance 6-7349.

“Should it be what they claim of it,”

said Harmony 9-2642, “then it would

bring ruin to the Department of Candles.

The Candle is a great boon to mankind,

as approved by all men. Therefore it

cannot be destroyed by the whim of one.”

“This would wreck the Plans of the

World Council,” said Unanimity 2-9913,

“and without the Plans of the World Council

the sun cannot rise. It took fifty years

to secure the approval of all the Councils

for the Candle, and to decide upon the

number needed, and to re-fit the Plans so

as to make candles instead of torches.

This touched upon thousands and thousands

of men working in scores of States.

We cannot alter the Plans again so soon.”

“And if this should lighten the toil of

men,” said Similarity 5-0306, “then it is a

great evil, for men have no cause to exist

save in toiling for other men.”

Then Collective 0-0009 rose and pointed at our box.

“This thing,” they said, “must be destroyed.”

And all the others cried as one:

“It must be destroyed!”

Then we leapt to the table.

We seized our box, we shoved them

aside, and we ran to the window. We

turned and we looked at them for the last

time, and a rage, such as it is not fit for

humans to know, choked our voice in our throat.

“You fools!” we cried. “You fools! You thrice-damned fools!”

We swung our fist through the windowpane,

and we leapt out in a ringing rain of glass.

We fell, but we never let the box fall

from our hands. Then we ran. We ran

blindly, and men and houses streaked past

us in a torrent without shape. And the road

seemed not to be flat before us, but as if

it were leaping up to meet us, and we waited

for the earth to rise and strike us in the

face. But we ran. We knew not where we

were going. We knew only that we must

run, run to the end of the world,

to the end of our days.

Then we knew suddenly that we were lying

on a soft earth and that we had stopped.

Trees taller than we had ever seen

before stood over us in great silence.

Then we knew. We were in the Uncharted Forest.

We had not thought of coming here,

but our legs had carried our wisdom, and

our legs had brought us to the Uncharted

Forest against our will.

Our glass box lay beside us. We crawled to it,

we fell upon it, our face in our arms, and we lay still.

We lay thus for a long time. Then we rose,

we took our box and walked on into the forest.

It mattered not where we went. We knew

that men would not follow us, for they

never enter the Uncharted Forest. We had

nothing to fear from them. The forest

disposes of its own victims. This gave us

no fear either. Only we wished to be away,

away from the City and from the air that

touches upon the air of the City. So we

walked on, our box in our arms, our heart empty.

We are doomed. Whatever days are left

to us, we shall spend them alone. And we

have heard of the corruption to be found

in solitude. We have torn ourselves from

the truth which is our brother men, and there

is no road back for us, and no redemption.

We know these things, but we do not care.

We care for nothing on earth. We are tired.

Only the glass box in our arms is like a

living heart that gives us strength. We have

lied to ourselves. We have not built this

box for the good of our brothers. We built

it for its own sake. It is above all our

brothers to us, and its truth above their truth.

Why wonder about this? We have not many days

to live. We are walking to the fangs awaiting us

somewhere among the great, silent trees. There is

not a thing behind us to regret.

Then a blow of pain struck us, our first and our only.

We thought of the Golden One. We thought of the Golden One

whom we shall never see again. Then the pain passed.

It is best. We are one of the Damned. It is best

if the Golden One forget our name and the body

which bore that name.


It has been a day of wonder, this,

our first day in the forest.

We awoke when a ray of sunlight fell across

our face. We wanted to leap to our feet,

as we have had to leap every morning

of our life, but we remembered suddenly

that no bell had rung and that there was

no bell to ring anywhere. We lay on our back,

we threw our arms out, and we looked up at the sky.

The leaves had edges of silver that trembled and

rippled like a river of green and fire flowing high above us.

We did not wish to move. We thought

suddenly that we could lie thus as long as

we wished, and we laughed aloud at the

thought. We could also rise, or run, or leap,

or fall down again. We were thinking that

these were thoughts without sense, but before

we knew it our body had risen in one leap.

Our arms stretched out of their own will,

and our body whirled and whirled,

till it raised a wind to rustle through the

leaves of the bushes. Then our hands

seized a branch and swung us high into a

tree, with no aim save the wonder of learning

the strength of our body. The branch

snapped under us and we fell upon the moss

that was soft as a cushion. Then our body,

losing all sense, rolled over and over on the

moss, dry leaves in our tunic, in our hair,

in our face. And we heard suddenly that

we were laughing, laughing aloud, laughing

as if there were no power left in us save laughter.

Then we took our glass box, and we

went on into the forest. We went on,

cutting through the branches, and it was

as if we were swimming through a sea of leaves,

with the bushes as waves rising and falling

and rising around us, and flinging their

green sprays high to the treetops.

The trees parted before us, calling us forward.

The forest seemed to welcome us. We went on,

without thought, without care, with nothing

to feel save the song of our body.

We stopped when we felt hunger. We saw

birds in the tree branches, and flying

from under our footsteps. We picked a

stone and we sent it as an arrow at a bird.

It fell before us. We made a fire, we cooked

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Categories: Rand, Ayn